Sycophancy is for the unpatriotic: Reaction to Idriss Ali Nassah article

In his halcyon days, Idriss Ali Nassah was a fierce social and political commentator, acerbic in vocabulary but measured in thought and analysis. It also helped that he edited a publication that supported the efforts of this newspaper in driving critical national discourse on all matters Democracy and Governance.

President Mutharika with Idriss Ali Nassah

President Mutharika with Idriss Ali Nassah

President Banda Banda flanked by Idriss Nassah

Idriss Nassah (L) with former president Joyce Banda

There could not be a better time to for media in Malawi to exude these fantastic qualities than at the present moment. Over 50 years into Independence, we are still the perfect stereotype of underdevelopment; poor health systems and infrastructure; virtually no reliable service delivery across the country; an ever-fragile economy; sub-standard education at both lower and higher levels; and so much less.

If Mr Nassah is right about one thing in his latest entry on this page then it is that Malawi can barely afford to move forward without changing its national psyche. The psychological damage that has been visited upon Malawians in the post-colonial era remains one of the most undocumented tragedies of our time. Far worse is what we have had to endure post-1994, when the damage retreated into subtlety but kept reinventing its devastating impact.

What we have clearly seen with our own eyes, however, is how ruling elites, taking turns to capture State power via “democratic” elections, have repeatedly raped the soul of this nation, taking unashamed turns at looting the national coffers while impoverishing millions of Malawians. In this regard, Mr Nassah is being rather dishonest when he suggests that what we have come to know as Cashgate, was a phenomenon peculiar to a single regime, that of former president, Dr Joyce Banda.

For someone writing against the backdrop of an African Union (AU) Summit, whose theme was on women’s empowerment, Mr Nassah should have been sensitive to the implications of his key message–that president Peter Mutharika is saving a country ruined by Banda.

This is not to absolve the Joyce Banda administration of any wrongdoing. Rather, it is to insist on truth, honesty and consistency in the types benchmarks we set for the leadership of this country. We simply cannot have rules for male leaders and rules for female leaders. Leaders must just lead and allow themselves to be held accountable against standards that reflect national hopes, dreams and aspirations, not gender.

Given our national demographics, in fact, it is the women of Malawi who have carried the heaviest burdens and single-handedly borne the brunt of leadership failures since time immemorial. Therefore, to ascribe collective national failure to a female presidency alone – as Mr Nassah does in his article –is not only frivolous but more insidiously, an unprecedented exhibition of male chauvinism.

The irony, quite remarkably, is inescapable.

Idriss Ali Nassah represents a generation of Malawians who are supposed to know better – university educated, holding senior management jobs, ambitious and visionary. It is this generation that is our best hope yet. Regrettably, in Mr Nassah’s article, an almost sycophantic tribute to president Mutharika, there is also the tragedy of seeing dazzling potential fizzle itself out in the overzealous service of political order.

This, of course, is not to deny Mr Nassah his agency or, for that matter, democratic choice. Rather, it is to sincerely demand more from him as a hard-working Malawian who has been fortunate enough to edit a newspaper in his country, obtain international higher education and work at international diplomatic and media institutions.

Having worked at the AU himself, Mr Nassah will know that what he gives president Mutharika credit for is actually norm and standard. Any single session occurring during an AU summit can pass as “crucial”. Fact. Mutharika was just doing what we, Malawians, expect him to do when he draws taxpayers’ money for such purposes.

Have we set the leadership bar so low that any little thing a leader does is worth many column inches of praise?

I was in Johannesburg, South Africa during the AU Summit. As opposed to seeking photo opportunities with presidents in the plush Sandton district, I went downtown to seek the views of ordinary Malawian. These are the remnants from the bus-loads you saw arriving in the country, voluntarily repatriated from South Africa in the aftermath of Afrophobic violence.

A Malawian barber I spoke with asked the most poignant question: “For how long are we going to be pushed out of Malawi, by poverty and lack of opportunity, to go and build other countries?”

There’s a marked difference between blame-games and historical reflection. If we are to substantively build this country for the next 50 years, we’ll need to do the latter. More importantly, we’ll have to do away with the self-hating and debilitating attitudesof turning a blind eye on Injustice.

Malawi is in desperate need of people who love her, sincerely.


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32 thoughts on “Sycophancy is for the unpatriotic: Reaction to Idriss Ali Nassah article”

  1. chefourpence says:

    what has the women issues got to do with Nassar’s article? Are we to keep silent on JB because she is a ‘woman’? Fallacious reasoning Mr Kabwato. And why the verbosity? You would have written a direct letter to Idris….

  2. Greencardless Malawian says:

    Idriss is a Universal Bootlicker!

  3. Sis zee says:

    Why do you use big words to communicate, an average Malawian cant understand this article, my lecturer used to say Keep it simple, you dont impress by writing difficult words. Idriss and Levi are close friends dont think akuyambana apa

  4. Mtumbuka says:

    An article from APM hater who is disappointed to see Idriss say something positive about The President. I see personal attack on Idriss here, i see nothing wrong it taking pics. Should we believe that you went around looking for barbers to interview? Isnt this a clearly made up inteview between u and an imaginery barber in SA? This is a useless hate piece. Just learn to acknowledge credit where its due. U cant say we pay him so he should be brilliant. We have seen silly paid presidents as well as killer paid presidents

  5. kamjuwi says:

    Hypocrisy and shifting roles of covering Muntharika’s arse from Ethiopia.

  6. Kenwood Maugula says:

    So when one writes something positive then thats good writing. Rather than countering what Nassah wrote, Kabwato with his obsession of negative stories about Malawians would have just written the story on those immigrants in South Africa. His counterpart chose to write something rather positive about the leadership of Malawi without stepping on any of his fellows in the press industry. Kabwato should have just concentrated on his pessimistic writing not as a response/feedback to Nassah’s article.

  7. clement says:

    Ali Nasah is seeking attention from APM and DPP. He likes being fotograft with presidents. He thinks he can sway the minds of Malawians with cheap public relations on APM. Malawi does not nead a head of state that is good at “utterances”. No! What Mw requires is a president who delivers on what was promised. A president who even acts on emergencies. APM has a bad record from even when he was a Minister. Ali Nasa, uvale zilimbe. Ntchito akulemba kumeneyi izakusalira mmanja. For those that do not know Levi, pliz follow him on twitter. And you will see what he writes. Journalists that love Mw

  8. Its better if Mr Nassa can just go and sleep. He has. Shown that he is blind with issuesaffecting Malawians. Its women who have servedd Malawi. Honestly than the Muthalikas. Problems affecting Malawi were created by Peter and his arrogantlate bro. Bingu left fuel. Hunger and poor international relations but JB a woman solved. JB provided hope but Peter is just quite like mukute there4 when Mr Nassa is writing, he should know that we’re noot dull but we know the leaders in and out. JB is one ofsuccessful African woman more than Peter and Mr Nassan.

  9. Balamanthu says:

    Kabawto writes sense,for the able minded, for lovers of the country who chose to call a spade a spade and not a spade a spoon.I am proud of you.His line of thought is admirable and his clarity second to none.

  10. Rodgers Banda says:

    When will we find such Malawians? We flock to SA because devil’s are busy fooling and cheating 90 percent brutes and illiterate who can’t understand the world

  11. chintotho says:

    Nice piece. Full of content not just vocabulary.

  12. Dododo says:

    Za ziiiiii tiye nazo uko iwe…..

  13. half man half biscuit says:

    baba kabwato, who gave you the authority to judge certain writing sycophancy??? it is clear that you are motivated by a deep hatred for apm. idrissah’s writinf was based on his appreciation of apm’s coherent engagement with peers. just because malawi is poor doesnt mean we have a bad president. your angry and partenalistic article is evidence of what is wrong with malawi. you think there is only one way of looking at malawi. just because you talked to malawians who experienced xenophobia (not afrophobia as you put it) doesnt make you a guardian over idrissah’s journalism. stop the condescending attitude against other writers who look at malawi with different intellectual trajectories.

    1. Inhumane Rights Activist says:

      Typical DPP praise-singer

  14. Sweet Boy says:

    Much as what Mr. Kabwato is saying could be true, there are some ares where he is not telling the truth. I believe what Mr. Nassah was implying in his article had something to do with the manner the country representative (President) conducted his presentation, although we know that the contents of the speech was produced by an expert whose job it is to come up with presidential speeches. There are other leaders who even fail to read what has already been prepared by professionals and after delivery they even fail to expound it if asked to do so. We literally saw one of them leaders doing exactly that when a visit was made to the USA whereby the President was scared up to a point where a statement was picked by the powerful PA system: “Musatalikiretu mudzindithandiza kuyankha mafunso” now in instances like those if someone stands-out, is it a crime to commend the good performance? likewise if someone under-performs, is it out of order to point out the anomalies/shortfalls?

  15. Professor Dr. James Napwiri Phiri says:

    I also read his Nassah article. I did not carry any message other than saying that he is a fortune seeker. He is praising Peter he has benefited from his regime and he wants to benefit more.

    We never know what Mr. Nassah was promised. But he must know that politicians come and go. But Mr. Nassah has a job and reputation to protect. He is just another silly guy

  16. Mphwiyo says:

    Well written from both Nassa & Levi. Keep it up

  17. Bulu says:

    Useless article.Wasted my time. next time write something which can provide solutions. Idriss is better than the author. Fotseki wasted my time.

  18. Nasah Mbuli says:

    Idriss Nassah is full of himself, he thinks he knows much better than the rest of Malawians, he thinks he is God’s gift to Malawi journalism. The guy calls himself a journalist but reading through his articles, you can notice the lack of depth, research and analysis as compared to the late Ralph Tenthani’s articles. Nassah’s articles are full of fallacies, half truths and at times blatant lies. My verdict on Nassah is that he is a writer but not a journalist. He writes his rubbish very well. He behaves like what I used to do in primary school during debates, I would just memorise big words and say them at any point I felt like saying them despite the words being out of context of the debate. Girls would clap hands at me but at the end of the debate there wasnt anything sensible that I said. I feel most of the times the objective of Nassah’s articles is just to show off his vocabulary and nothing else.

  19. Matokoso says:

    Another pretender and so called thinker hijacking the debate and projecting himself as being more patriotic as the other guy. Another JB hand clapper. The people trekking to South are all grown ups they know what they are doing. When they succeed its because they are astute; they fail to cut it they accuse government.

  20. Piper says:

    Do away with injustice and inequality. That will be a good start.

  21. 5555 says:

    I said it that Mr Idriss is a bad person !! wadyera!! Now you are exposed!!

    Indeed Mr Idriss is Mr. Sycophant Man

  22. Angellic says:

    Yes, take pictures with Malawi presidents, whoever they may be but never be starry eyed over them. As long as you are a journalist, you have a duty to call out presidents when they are on the wrong side of things. APM is in no where near the right side of things! His hands are dirty, he has a contradictory life style, what he says does not match what he does! Let’s be patriotic for once please! Mr Nassah, don’t let us down!

  23. Kadakwiza says:

    Idris Nassah from Chad I think.

  24. Joseph says:

    I wonder how stupid he feel now in the wake of this R570 billion DPP cashgate.

  25. VIYAZI TEMBO says:


  26. Joseph says:

    We all know that this Nassah guy is all diluted now, sold to the highest bidder! Like Joyce said, and I quote….” Malawian are very clever now, they can’t be misled anymore, they know how to discern the truth.”

  27. chaiwone wawo says:

    Truly I was also disappointed by Mr Nassah’s article that painted Mutharika as the hero Malawi needs to get out of all the calamities we have. I have Known Mr. Nassah as an objective writer starting back in his college days and immediately he left college and joined the Malawi media fraternity. I nearly concluded he pocketed some envelop whose contents you and me can speculate to beautifully write about the president, or perhaps he is doing that to gain other favors later from the president. This is not the Idrissa Nassah that I have known and if he can get a look at this article i suggest he guards himself from being used by politicians, he may do an irreparable damage to his media career. There was really nothing to paint Mutharika for in his article.

  28. mtumbuka1 says:

    Idriss Ali nassah?? Who is this guy? Sounds like a boko haram card carrying member ( in Malawi is called udf). let’s agree that Malawi is a failed state and with the corrupt mechanism put in place by the previous governments(udf&dpp),our journalists and media is always bought by these politicians to fight their political battles but guess who suffers,the poor voters. We desperately need Malawi congress party to put this country back on track. Udf,pp and dpp are one people and have failed this country. 2019 is too far to vote again we need this udf/dpp govt out now!!

  29. Gas Machine Head says:

    Kudos Mr Kabwato. Well-said! Ramadaan Mubarak

  30. The real Ujeni says:

    Good article

  31. Samarakunjuta says:

    Whatever wrighting here try to inform people that Federal government is the only way to go understood!!!

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